Strategic World Impact began in 1998 after a month of fasting and prayer. President, Kevin Turner, along with some present board members, felt the call of God to go deep into the corners of the world. Their mission was to go where few venture to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and minister to the physical needs of people facing eternity everyday. Prior to the birth of SWI, Kevin began working with New Frontiers in 1991 going into war zones and disaster areas, and following that, he served the persecuted body of Christ with Voice of the Martyrs. While seeing that many organizations were willing to work in areas of physical need, many were not willing to risk going to the most desperate areas, as they were often the most dangerous. Still when groups would go, they were very restricted in their activities of sharing the Gospel. Much of this was due to receiving government funds rather than raising their support straight from the body of believers. After seeking counsel with over 15 other pastors, leaders and Christian brothers, it was decided that now was the time for Strategic World Impact.
Many have asked what exactly we do and how we do it. Starting with our first issue of The Current, we answered questions such as, “What is different about Strategic World Impact?” and “Why should another ministry should be started when there are so many?” Our vision was very clear. Strategic World Impact would be about working in war zones, disaster areas, and places were Christians are persecuted. Our first goal would be to have rapid response teams called DART or Disaster Assistance Response Teams that would be composed of highly trained individuals who would be ready at a minute’s notice and be willing to lay down their lives for the Lord and His people. We would also engage the Church and bring believers along as short-term missionaries trusting that God would touch the world with His Church. We would also never compromise in sharing Jesus with the people we help. It was our goal that we would never be content with people only “seeing” Jesus in our actions but also hearing the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, and as a ministry, we would go to the hot spots of the world touching lives when no one was there or where they had pulled out. The niche would be to assist the Church in a strategic response for a strategic harvest! It is heartbreaking to see that so many organizations are using the money from the body of Christ only to attend to the physical needs while some organizations have even taken vows to never share the Gospel in any form but only help. SWI ministers to the physical and spiritual needs of people in need through ongoing operations in Eritrea, Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand and Burma.
Since our birth, we have also worked in countries from Indonesia to Chechnya. We are committed to an evangelical response in these areas pertaining to relief, medical aid, community health, and physical needs, but our primary goal is to minister to the spiritual needs of people by planting churches where none exist. This vision has taken SWI to over 20 countries since 1998 and has allowed us to be in the eye of the storm to plant multiple churches, assist thousands of people and have an impact on the Church in America while challenging her to rise up and be as bold as a lion. Here are some of the places SWI has gone and how we’ve brought the love of Christ to people in need.
Afghanistan: SWI went into Afghanistan to help meet the needs of Afghani refugees. These refugees had fled their homes in an attempt to escape the tyrannical reign of the Taliban, and they were left destitute in the wilderness. SWI was able to partner with other ministries to distribute tarps, blankets, cooking fuel, food and shortwave radios to thousands of refugees. The radios we distributed allowed the refugees to listen to Christian radio stations and be fed the Word of God even after our teams returned home.
Albania: SWI sent containers of relief to distribute to Kosovar refugees living in Albania. We evangelized one-on-one and gave financial support to the local church there. We stood at the borders as thousands of people fled for their lives, and we met them with hot baked bread and the Word of God.
Burma: SWI has actively worked in Burma since her beginning. Our work has primarily taken place along the Thai/Burma border with the Karen people who have been targeted for annihilation by their own government. SWI has provided school kits for children who would otherwise not be able to attend school for lack of supplies, held medical training clinics and given out medical supplies to Karen medics going into Burma to help with the physical needs of their people, provided food and other forms of aid to refugees along the border, and held pastors conferences for Karen pastors. SWI has also aggressively put the word out about the atrocities being committed against the Karen people. Presently, we are working with Karen leaders and have established the only secondary training school for the refugees known to exist – an Engineering School that provides refugees with the opportunity to be educated with technical skills to aid in empowering their society with education.
Chechnya: In response to the crisis going on inside Chechnya, SWI sent in a team to work with a small group of believers who had been terrorized by Muslims. The team distributed food enough to feed thousands of families, and we shared the love of Christ with them. The Grozny Baptist Church in Chechnya continued its ministry to spread the Gospel in spite of the tragedy and conflict taking place inside the country. SWI provided the finances to purchase a 7.5 ton truck for the church to continue their ministry even after our team was gone.
Dominican Republic: One of SWI’s first operations was to go to the eye of the storm that had devastated this country. In less then two weeks, Strategic World Impact was on the ground bringing in aid and shipping containers to those in need. We partnered with local missionaries and churches were planted and lives were forever changed.
Egypt: The African Hope Learning Center, located in Cairo, Egypt, educates over 140 Southern Sudanese students who have immigrated to Egypt and would not otherwise be able to receive a non-Muslim education. SWI helped start the school in May 1998 by providing Bible curriculum and a portion of the start-up cost. Since most of the children came to school without eating breakfast or bringing a lunch, SWI implemented a feeding program for the students so that they could eat and have more energy to concentrate on their studies. The African Hope Learning Center has given hundreds of families hope that someday their children will return to their country and serve as leaders.
Ethiopia: SWI assisted in building three churches complete with pastors’ homes and guesthouses. We also worked with and empowered a converted Muslim who was healed of AIDS to reach thousands with the power of the Gospel.
Honduras: When Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras in 1998, it left thousands of victims homeless and hopeless. SWI was quick to respond. We shipped in 17 40-foot containers of food, blankets, medicine, plastic sheeting, and Bibles to help the people whose homes and lives had been destroyed.
India: SWI traveled to India to work with the underground church by training Indian evangelists, leaders, and pastors. The team also went to remote villages to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Jesus film and prayerwalked Hindu stronghold areas.
Indonesia: SWI was one of the first organizations to respond following the Tsunami. A number of teams assisted with recovery and SWI established a training center there. In the past, SWI went into the epicenter of church persecution in Indonesia and ministered to the people. We interviewed victims of persecution and assessed the situation. We also left money with a local pastor for the building project to rebuild his church which had been demolished.
Iraq: After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s reign, humanitarian assistance was hindered by the chaos going on inside the country. SWI was standing by when the door opened to go in and assess the situation. The SWI team traveled into Baghdad and worked with US military officials there to form a disaster assessment. Also, we distributed Bibles and tracts to local pastors, interviewed victims of persecution, and met and worked with a pastor of the underground church in Iraq who had been released from prison when the Americans invaded Baghdad.
Kosovo: Tens of thousands of refugees sought refuge in neighboring countries following the ethnic cleansing by the Serbian government in Kosovo. While Macedonia turned the refugees away, Albania embraced them and allowed them to find refuge there. SWI distributed food to the refugees and shared the love of Christ with them. We also distributed refugee food kits and provided shelter as well.
Mexico: In the state of Chiapas, Christians were being attacked as the priest at the local Catholic Church demanded that his church members harass and assault the local Christians. SWI, in partnership with Taking the Land Ministries, delivered blankets, school kits, Bibles, and discipleship material to these Christians.
Nigeria: As attacks rose against Christians in Nigeria, SWI sent in a small team to assess the situation and to fellowship with persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Hundreds in Kaduna were slaughtered for their faith and hundreds more lost all earthly possessions. SWI was able to leave funds to assist those who lost everything.
Pakistan: SWI has been working throughout Pakistan in various ways including earthquake relief, ministry in villages, conducting conferences, offering a sewing center to teach small groups of women while developing a vocation and sharing the love of Jesus with all who we touch. SWI is greatly burdened for Pakistan and has seen God’s mighty hand working inside this country.
Russia: SWI delivered medicine to medical clinics in the city of Maiski, Russia to help with the physical needs of the sick.
South Sudan: The people of South Sudan have suffered greatly at the hands of their government. Over two million have died and over four million are internally displaced or living in refugee camps in neighboring countries. SWI responded to their plight by delivering food, refugee kits, Bibles and hope. We also supported three pastors working in South Sudan and helped fund a tailoring training course for Sudanese women living in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.
NE Sudan/Eritrea: For the last 4 years, SWI has worked along the Sudan/Eritrea border with two Muslim people groups – the Beja and the Rashaida. These people fled their homes in Sudan to escape Sharia law and now live under harsh conditions in the desert. SWI has faithfully shown these people the love of Jesus by distributing food and medical supplies, holding medical clinics, and by sharing the Gospel with them at every opportunity. SWI also assists the persecuted church in Eritrea by holding pastors conferences and offering them aid when needed.
Thailand: Over the last several years, SWI has worked with refugees in camps along the Thai border. We have held medical clinics as well as food and medicine distributions. SWI also helps support the Engineering School which is located in Mae La refugee camp just inside the Thai border.
Turkey: After the massive earthquake in 1999, SWI took in a small team to conduct an assessment of the disaster area, to aid in humanitarian assistance, and to minister to the victims of the devastating earthquake.
Vietnam: The underground church in Vietnam is desperate for fellowship with other believers. SWI traveled into Vietnam to work with pastors of the underground church there. While we were there, we also performed an assessment of the people’s needs.
Zimbabwe: In October 2002, SWI donated the funds needed to supply Eden Children’s Village, an orphanage in Zimbabwe, with a freezer to help them preserve food. The primary focus of this orphanage, where most of the orphans lost both parents to AIDS and some of the children are HIV-positive, is to provide food, clothing, education and medical care for as many children as possible. SWI is honored to help this ministry and believes that its work is vital to the Kingdom.